Poke tackle

The poke tackle is a simple but effective way of stopping the opposition that will either give your team a chance to re-organise or even regain possession of the ball.

What this session is about

  1. Knocking the ball out of play…
  2. … or winning back possession.
  3. 1v1 defending.
  4. Tackling an opponent who is shielding the ball.

What to think about

  • Approach attacker from the side or behind.
  • Get close.
  • Use the foot nearest ball.
  • Focus on the ball.
  • Extend foot from side or through opponent’s legs.
  • Stab ball away using toes to kick near its centre.
  • Do not make contact with opponent.
  • Balance.
  • Timing.
  • If the ball is in play, can defender win possession by putting body between it and attacker?


  • Approx 10 x 20 metre area.
  • 1 ball between 2 players.
Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
15 minutes10 minutes10 minutes10 minutes15 minutes

What you get your players to do

Both players start at one end, with the attacker close to the touchline. At half pace to begin with, the attacker dribbles the ball towards the opposite end, allowing the defender to practice executing the poke tackle.

After several attempts, the players switch roles.

Make sure players practice using both feet.

Defender gets close to attacker.

Defender gets close to attacker.


To progress, the attacker must now attempt to dribble at full speed to the end line so that the defender can practice the skill of the poke tackle at match pace.

Defender performs poke tackle to knock the ball out of play.

Defender performs poke tackle to knock the ball out of play.

Game situation

Mark a grid of approx 25 x 25 metres and split players into two teams. Each member of the attacking team has a ball inside the grid, while the defending team remains outside. On your signal the defending team enters the grid and tries to knock as many balls out of the playing area as possible.

An attacker who loses their ball must retrieve it and re-enter the grid. The defending team gets a point for every ball kicked out of play. After a set period, the teams switch roles.

How many poke tackles can the defending team make?

How many poke tackles can the defending team make?

What to call out

  • “Commit to the tackle”
  • “Be determined”
  • “Touch the ball not the attacker”
  • “Don’t go to ground unless you have to”
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